English Teacher Humor

This is the tee shirt I wear in December. Maybe I am desperate for some levity in these grim times in our national life so have a low bar, but this sentence cracks me up. Doesn’t take much.

Stable Genius?

Only two of the following statements can be true. Choose your two.

  1. Students learn best when they interact with other students. Collaboration is a learning strategy that encourages students to grow as thinkers. When students  read the same book and come to class with their own individual responses, individual questions, and individual choices about the most important lines in that book, the discussion is a lively one in which each person becomes a better thinker because the ideas he or she came to class with are challenged, expanded, or affirmed by the diverse thinking of others.
  2.  The workplace is most productive when those in it interact with one another. Tony Wagner of the Harvard University Graduate School of Education, who is an expert in the future of work in our complex world, identifies Seven Survival Skills for the world of work now and in the future. One of those seven is “Collaboration Across Networks and Leading By Influence”. He advocates that those in the workplace ask provocative questions and offer individual perspectives for problem solving as they interact with a broad diversity of thinkers so that problems are best solved and innovations created.
  3. The President of the United States does not need to consult with anyone because he knows more than anyone else. He is a “stable genius”.  He needs no one, including those who research and write about the issues at hand and those with whom he could meet and discuss those issues. He is right when he says, “I have a gut, and my gut tells me more sometimes than anybody else’s brain can ever tell me.” And it was a good move for him to not talk with knowledgeable people in our government before meeting with the Chinese president to discuss trade negotiations because our president is right when he says,  “I know it better than anybody knows it, and my gut has always been right.”

Answer: With #1 and #2, the group dynamic insures that the best thinking will come forward.  With #3, we are in big trouble. Trump’s approach insures insular, myopic thinking, which benefits no one. In short, we are screwed.

The Measure Of A Nation: How It Treats The Weak

Donald Trump
(AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

Pediatricians ‘stunned and shaken’ as Trump uses tear gas on infants

The American Academy of Pediatrics officially opposes using tear gas on infants and toddlers, in a rebuke of the Trump administration. Pediatricians slammed the Trump administration for their “inhumane treatment” of infants and toddlers after news reports of tear gas being used against children and families.

 

“Immigrant children are still children, and they deserve our compassion and assistance,” the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) said in a statement. “We will continue to speak out against their inhumane treatment and advocate for their safety.”

The AAP represents 67,000 pediatricians dedicated to the health, safety and well-being of infants, children, adolescents and young adults. The group was “stunned and shaken” at images of families with young children, many of whom are seeking asylum, on the receiving end of U.S.-launched tear gas.

Using chemical weapons against infants and toddlers in diapers “goes against evidence-based recommendations, and threatens their short and long-term health,” the group says.

Children are smaller and breathe more rapidly than adults, which combines to “magnif[y] the harm of agents such as tear gas,” the AAP says, explaining the science behind their objection to the Trump administration’s attack on children.

In addition to the physical harm, the AAP is worried about the psychological ramifications of Trump’s xenophobic anti-immigrant stance.

“Many of these children are fleeing conditions that threaten their health and safety; they have taken harrowing journeys to seek refuge in our country,” the group says. “Our government must take extra precautions when it comes to children.”

Unfortunately, the Trump administration has shown a callous disregard for the well-being of children.

Over the summer, Trump’s anti-immigrant deterrence plan consisted of ripping children away from their families for weeks and even months. Even though the administration knew of the potential harms, Trump pressed forward with the family separation policy anyway.

Unlike the Trump administration, the AAP “recommends that all immigrant children and families seeking safe haven are treated with dignity and respect to protect their health and well-being.”

Using tear gas on children shocks the conscience, and Trump’s regime needs to listen to pleas of pediatricians and stop these inhumane activities.

Published with permission of The American Independent.

Questioning As Learning Strategy And Survival Skill

The White House has announced that it is banning the asking of follow-up questions at Presidential news conferences. 

As we educators work to develop our students’ skills in asking questions because we know that asking multi-layered, deep questions is a powerful learning strategy for them and allows them excellent opportunities in critical thinking, the President of the United States prohibits exactly the kind of questions we are teaching our students to form and to shape on their own.

Follow-up questions are at the heart of all innovative endeavors in the workplace and are at the foundation of a functioning democracy. We educators must redouble our efforts with our students because now it is even more important that students learn to question one another and to question what they read than it has been. Questioning is the survival skill of our democracy.

A Beacon For The Future

Desmond Tutu awards international peace award to Parkland students

March for Our Lives activists were awarded this year's International Children's Peace Prize.

(CNN)Survivors of the deadly shooting at a Parkland, Florida, high school were awarded the 2018 International Children’s Peace Prize on Tuesday.

In a ceremony celebrated in Cape Town, South Africa, Archbishop Desmond Tutu presented the prize to David Hogg, Emma González, Jaclyn Corin and Matt Deitsch.
In the aftermath of the shooting that killed 17 people at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in February, students organized March for Our Lives and rallied in Washington, calling for stricter gun laws in the United States. The event was one of more than 800 planned across the United States and in cities worldwide.
The rallies propelled the students into activism, including motivating young people to vote in the midterm elections.
Tutu, who was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1984 for his work to end apartheid in South Africa, called March for Our Lives one of the most significant movements led by young people, according to a statement posted on the Children’s Peace Prize website.
“The peaceful campaign to demand safe schools and communities and the eradication of gun violence is reminiscent of other great peace movements in history,” Tutu said. “I am in awe of these children, whose powerful message is amplified by their youthful energy and an unshakable belief that children can — no, must — improve their own futures.”
The prize was founded by KidsRights, an organization that works to guarantee the rights of children. Tutu has been the patron for more than a decade. Past winners include Malala Yousafzai, who received the award in 2013 for her work advocating for children’s education.
Marc Dullaert, founder of KidsRights and the peace prize, said in a statement that March for Our Lives topped the list of this year’s nominees because it is a “truly global youth-led and peaceful protest movement.”
“The initiators have utilized the skills and knowledge of young people to generate positive change, whilst mobilizing millions of their peers. … This will shape the way in which children’s rights are campaigned in the future,” Dullaert added.
Hogg, one of the movement’s founders, wrote on Twitter:
“9 months ago we were 25 kids on a living-room floor. Today Desmond Tutu gave us the International Children’s Peace Prize in Cape Town, South Africa.”
March for Our Lives also took to Twitter, dedicating the award to “everyone that has supported us, marched with us, and organized with us. This is only the beginning of our global movement.”

Trump Changes What We Now Must Teach

In April 2015, I began writing about the sorry state of education in the United States if schools adopted the Common Core Standards because those standards would terribly debase how students learn to read and write. Once the standardized tests (SBAC, PARCC, and SAT) were linked to the standards, the fix was in even though it is well-documented that a school district’s scores on those tests depend on one thing only: the income of the parents of the test-takers. What has actually happened is that affluent school districts in which administrators are confident that the income levels of the parents will insure good test scores ignore the shoddy Common Core standards and give their students quality experiences as readers and writers. However, districts with parents of low income or living in poverty concentrate on those standards because administrators worry about low test scores and try to hedge their bets. The rich get richer and the poor get poorer.

Now in November 2018, there is an added worry about what all students everywhere are learning about language because of Donald Trump. Max Boot explains that worry in the following piece he wrote for The Washington Post.

 

America will need years to clean up the toxins Trump has released


President Trump speaks at a rally in Council Bluffs, Iowa, on Oct. 9. (Nati Harnik/AP)

 

Donald Trump won’t be president for life. In a little more than two or (heaven help us) six years, he will be gone. But his baleful legacy will live on. He is turning U.S. politics into a Superfund site and the Republican Party into the leading intellectual polluter in America. It could take a generation to clean up the toxins he has released. Trump is a racist, xenophobe and conspiracy-monger, and his party increasingly reflects all of those mental deformities.

Trump suggests that Florida’s efforts to count ballots after Election Day — a standard practice — are part of a Democratic plot to steal the election. “An honest vote count is no longer possible-ballots massively infected,” he tweeted. “Must go with Election Night!” There is no evidence — none — of any fraud. When asked for proof, Trump replied, “I don’t know. You tell me.”

But his conspiracy-mongering is echoed by governor and Senate candidate Rick Scott (R), who vows “I will not sit idly by while unethical liberals try to steal this election,” and by Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), who claims, “Incompetent law breaking election officials lead to chance for lawyers to steal an election.” I worked on Rubio’s 2016 presidential campaign, so I am saddened to see “Little Marco” turning into his tormentor’s mini-me.

But that is the Trump effect: He is pushing otherwise sane Republicans down conspiratorial rabbit holes. It is big news when Republican Martha McSally in Arizona is willing to graciously concede her Senate race without claiming she was the victim of fraud. What used to be routine is now extraordinary.

McSally is, after all, a member of the same party as Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.). He tweeted a video of a man handing currency to women and girls under the caption: “BREAKING: Footage in Honduras giving cash 2 women & children 2 join the caravan & storm the US border @ election time. Soros? US-backed NGOs? Time to investigate the source!” Trump retweeted the video, writing: “Can you believe this, and what Democrats are allowing to be done to our Country?” It turned out the footage was from Guatemala, not Honduras, and it showed local merchants contributing money to the refugee caravan. There was no connection to George Soros, but that hasn’t stopped Trump, Gaetz & Co. from trafficking in this anti-Semitic conspiracy theory.

Trump also hasn’t been shy about insulting the intelligence of African Americans. Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.), one of the longest-serving members of the House, is an “extraordinarily low I.Q. person.” CNN anchor Don Lemon is “the dumbest man on television” and makes LeBron James “look smart, which isn’t easy to do.” CNN reporter Abby Phillip, a Harvard University graduate, asks“a lot of stupid questions.” Stacey Abrams, a Yale Law School graduate and former minority leader of the Georgia House of Representatives, is “not qualified” to be governor of Georgia. Trump insults lots of people, including whites such as CNN’s Jim Acosta (“a rude, terrible person”), but his barbs about intelligence are primarily aimed at minorities.

Latin American immigrants are another favorite Trump target. In the midterm campaign, he released a commercial trying to make a cop-killer the symbol of a supposed invading army of illegal immigrants. The ad was so racist and dishonest that not even Fox News , his favorite network, would air it.

Such blatant bigotry from the president encourages blatant bigotry among his followers. Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) refers to Mexican immigrants as “dirt,” Florida gubernatorial candidate Ron DeSantis warns voters not to “monkey this up” by electing his African American opponent, and Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-Miss.), who represents a state with a long history of lynching, jokes about being in the front row for a “public hanging.”

Trent Lott, a former senator from Mississippi, had to resign as Senate majority leader after “joking” that if only the Dixiecrat Strom Thurmond had been elected president in 1948, “we wouldn’t have had all these problems.” But that was in 2002, when the GOP still had some standards. Today, Trump has given the haters permission to come into the open. Little wonder that the FBI reportsthat hate crimes were up 17 percent last year and anti-Semitic hate crimes up 37 percent. After Trump pronounced himself a “nationalist,” the founder of the neo-Nazi Daily Stormer website gleefully exclaimed: “He is /ourguy/. He is pushing the edges of the limits.”

Trump is not just pushing the limits — he is erasing them. He is normalizing bigotry and conspiracy-mongering in ways that would have seemed unimaginable only a few years ago. After he is gone, and perhaps even before, it will be imperative to rebuild the guardrails of our culture. We cannot eliminate bigotry, but we can reduce its prevalence and make its public expression unacceptable. The anti-tobacco campaign publicizing the dangers of smoking offers a model of the kind of public-education effort that will be necessary to clean up Trump’s toxic residue. Because if history teaches anything, it is that hate-mongering kills just as surely as smoking does.

 

We educators now have an added responsibility. Not only must we, despite the Common Core, teach students to be readers and writers, we must, despite the language students hear from their President, teach students how important it is both for their personal integrity and for the survival of our democracy to use language accurately and respectfully.

 
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